Ch. 9 PERESLAVET AND THE BATTLE OF SILISTRA

Copyright by Brian Howard Seibert

Princess Sviataslava of Constantinople

CHAPTER NINE

PERESLAVET AND THE BATTLE OF SILISTRA  (Circa 967-968 AD)

6.        “Here shall no one                harm his neighbour,

                        nor bale-thoughts brew       for others’ bane,

                        nor swing sharp sword        to smite a blow,

                        though his brother’s banesman    bound he should find.”

                                   Anonymous; Grottasongr, Prose Edda (Hollander)

(967)  January was just ending when Svein led two of his new legions and two of his old from Gardariki across the Black Sea for the Danube estuary.  Their target was Pereslavet, a Bulgar stronghold in eastern Wallachia and they were hoping to catch the Bulgarians by surprise.  Prince Svein and Prince Hraerik were at the forestem of Hraerik’s shieldship and the Roman Princess Sviataslava was beside Svein while the Khazar concubine stood behind her new master.  Going in this time was not as foreboding as the last because now they owned Wallachia, but there was a tenseness in the air because they were going to be striking with speed and stealth, taking all the Bulgar cities along the Danube before working their way south.  Svein wanted to link up with his new legion he had left in Ramnic and add them to his forces before going into the heartland of Bulgaria.  They made the crossing before nightfall and camped along the coast just north of Constanza and they hauled the shieldship up onto the beach and Hraerik and his Khazar princess shared furs under the awnings of the foredeck and Svein and his Roman princess snuggled in furs under the awnings of the stern deck.

They left for Pereslavet in the early morning light and caught the town by surprise and took it without much struggle.  Many Bulgarian soldiers were captured and the people were locked up within the walls of their own city.  The Hraes’ merchant fleet was still ice-locked in Kiev, but the slave merchants of Tmutorokan were free to follow the fleet and the slave traders began selecting half of the citizens and soldiers for slave training prior to the start of the spring cycle.  The war fleet left a contingent to hold the city and then headed up the Danube for the city of Silistra and its fortress of Dorostal, capturing all the towns in between as they progressed.  By travelling faster than news could spread, they caught Silistra by surprise as well.  The merchant slavers following were having trouble keeping up, but the victories had been so swift and casualties so low that troops were able to break away and help with slave selection and pillaging.  Many women were plundered by the troops, leading the slavers to complain about the unprofessionalism of the selection process, meaning many virgins were being raped and this was costing the slavers money in Baghdad.

The Danube River was the second longest river in Europe, running from the Black Forest in south western Frankia to the Black Sea.  Prince Hraerik knew the river some, but his family had been traversing the longest river, the Volga, since the mid-eighth century as part of the Nor’Way trade route that King Sigurd Fafnirsbane and Hraegunar Lothbrok had founded and that one Hraerik knew from source to skerries.  The Danube was new to Varangians and not much better known by the Vikings of western Europe, flowing south and east, away from the Norse incursions in Frankia.  It was a beautiful river and Hraerik and Svein were sailing up it with two beautiful women, a Roman princess of remarkable looks and a Khazar princess of magnificent form.

There were several unnamed towns between Silistra and Oltenita and these were unwalled and easily captured and pillaged and there were even Bulgarian villages on the north side of the Danube that had been recently settled as the Bulgars took hegemony over Wallachian territory and these were plundered completely, men, women and children all loaded into slave ships.  Wallachia was now Prince Svein’s and any Bulgarians living in his territory were considered invaders, not citizens.  But Prince Hraerik asked him to reconsider.

“These are Bulgarians in Wallachia,” Svein protested.  “They’re not protected under Aesir or Vanir law!”

“But you plan on conquering Bulgaria, just as you conquered Wallachia, so they will soon be your citizens.  If you leave half of the people to inhabit the towns, they will pay ongoing taxes and tithes.  If you leave the villages uninhabited, they will just moulder away.  And we’re having trouble transporting all the enslaved anyway.”

“Have them taken back then,” Svein said.  “Let them choose amongst themselves which half stays and which goes.”

“They’ll just choose the old and the weak for us,” Hraerik warned.

“If the slavers don’t want their picks then just leave them too,” Svein said.  “I don’t want anybody saying I haven’t been fair in my conquests.”

So, half the Bulgarians were returned to their villages and the slavers returned a quarter that they were apportioned as being unsuitable for sale so, the Bulgarians on the Wallachian side of the Danube ended up further ahead than those on the Bulgarian side of the river.  But as the Hraes’ legions progressed up the Danube, the captives they enslaved always surpassed the slavers ability to transport them.  At the city of Novae on the Bulgarian side, there was some resistance because they were not caught by surprise and had managed to sequester a garrison of troops behind the gates of an old Roman fortress that was poorly maintained there.  Half the citizens of the city were shipped off nonetheless and a regiment of foot and two dozen trebuchets were left to reduce the fort.  At Turnu the legions met up with the Seventh Legion of Tmutorokan which had been left in Ramnic the previous year.  They were being replaced by two regiments of standard foot soldiers who sailed up the Olt to hold Wallachia.

Prince Hraerik and his Khazar princess returned down the Danube with the retiring legion, leaving Prince Svein and his Roman princess to carry on with the conquest of the Bulgarian side of the river.  On the way past Novae, Hraerik learned that the trebuchets took two days to reduce the walls of the Roman fort to scalable height and the Bulgarian garrison then surrendered without a fight.  Hraerik took the Ramnic legion back to Gardariki for a break, then he took Empress Helga to Kiev for the spring trade session.  “There are slaves everywhere,” Helga complained.  “Far too many for proper training prior to sale.  This will severely impact prices!”

“I know,” Hraerik agreed.  “I talked Svein into releasing some captives in the hopes they’ll soon become tax paying citizens, but his legions are just rolling over the Bulgarian forces.”

“We can’t afford to keep them, but if we sell them all, we could collapse the market,” Helga repeated.  “It has happened before, you know.”

“So, I’ve heard,” Hraerik agreed.  “I’ll have to take some of them to India with me.  A lot of lives were lost during the Chaulukyan wars, so labour is short there.  They should move quickly.”  Hraerik didn’t like taking slaves to India because he had looked at it as his small piece of heaven, but he had watched that burn, so slaves might help fill in some of the manpower shortages there.  He didn’t want Myia seeing that dirty part of the business so, he was hoping Gujarat could handle most of them.  Helga helped him train his Khazar princess in keeping books.  She went by her Hebrew name, Serah, because she had been promised to a Jewish family in Jerusalem before her segment of Atil fell to the Hraes’ legions.  Serah was quite well educated and a fast learner so, Helga had her trained in doing the books in a few days.  It was a vast fleet leaving Kiev, the largest ever.  It took a lot of ships to transport slaves.  They couldn’t be bundled and stacked like furs, or kept below deck like grain or honey.  And they had to be in prime physical condition at the marketplace if they were to command premium prices.

The Hraes’ merchant fleets had grown to be massive, with the Constantinople fleet being several times larger than the Byzantine navy and as large as all other merchant fleets combined, while the fleet going to Baghdad completely swamped the rivers taking them there.  Even the Cathayan and Indian fleets were huge with large numbers of slave and livestock knars attached to them.  Cathay was typically too distant for transporting slaves, but supply was high in Europe and demand was high in Asia.

It took Prince Svein three months to conquer the Bulgarian Danube and he captured eighty cities and towns on the south side of the river and half as many again on the Wallachian side.  Once taken, the towns had to submit a list of half their citizens for enslavement, but the lists weren’t acted upon because the slavers were all gone off to Constantinople or Baghdad or further parts.  Prince Svein returned down the Danube with his legions and they stopped  at Silistra to assist his holding force with their siege of the Roman fortress there.  This fortress had been well maintained and towers had been added to all the walls so, the trebuchets had not been able to reduce them very much.  The city itself had been pillaged, but half the citizens still carried on business as usual during the siege and everyone knew the fortress was well supplied and could likely hold out for a year.  And Prince Svein was in no hurry to capture it.  There would be a Bulgar army coming from Preslav and the southern cities and it would be coming to relieve Silistra.  If the fortress fell, the army could be going anywhere, but as long as Silistra held out, it would be coming here.

Svein was following the teachings of General Sun Tzu and his Art of War where it is said, make your enemy come to you.  He re-equipped his siege forces there and made sure their fleet was ready to take them away, if required, but he only left enough additional men to maintain the siege, not to win it.  He planned to overwinter in Pereslavet, ‘Little Preslav”, with his Roman Princess Sviataslava.  If it felt good, he was planning on moving the capital of Hraes’ away from Kiev.  Once he got his co-Emperorship of Eastern Rome, it would be easier to run both empires from a location that was more centralized and not frozen solid half the year.  And autumns were supposed to be beautiful there.  Sometimes he wondered about Denmark and his titles to it.  He could hardly remember the country.  He had visited it once for a week when he was a child, visited all his relatives there with Prince Hraerik once.  Prince Harald had been his own age when he was there and now he was alone.  His brother, Canute, had been murdered in Ireland, or was it Angleland, and then his father, King Gorm, had died of grief, and then his mother, Queen Thyra, had committed suttee to accompany her husband into the afterlife.  Svein shook his head and hugged his new wife.  There was nothing for him in the north anymore.

Prince Hraerik had spent the summer in India again, bouncing between Ashaval in Gujarat and Mumba in Maharashtra province.  The fleet he brought with him was immense and the vast number of slaves he had brought, mostly Bulgars, sold very quickly to help replace the lives lost in the Chaulukyan Wars.  He brought his Khazar princess with him, but she stayed in Ashaval with the ships under awnings while Hraerik entertained his Jat and Chauluk princesses in the palace above.  And when he went to Mumba, she stayed in Ashaval while he visited his wives and children.

Myia noticed there was something different about Hraerik the first night they slept together.  They’d had sex and he came inside her, but he stayed inside her when he fell asleep and he hugged her while he was sleeping and he was leaking out of her for the first half hour and when she tried to get up to clean herself he gripped her tighter in his sleep.  Finally, after two hours he pulled out of her and rolled over and she got up and cleaned herself and wiped the bed and then she fell asleep beside him and when she woke up in the morning he was inside her again and she had no idea how he had gotten back into her.  He had told her about his battles with the Army of the Impalers and how it had affected him, how a feeling of morbidity had been overtaking him, a foreboding sense of morbidity.

“You have to get help,” Myia told him in the morning.  “I’m fearful for you.”

“I am getting help,” Hraerik said.  “I have you and Mahara, and I have my wives in Gardariki.  I’m working my way through this.  I’m more worried about my men.  Thirty thousand of us went in there and it affected all of us.”  And the Prince was right to worry.  The two young warriors that had saved the two Wallachian girls, that had stayed with them, for there was no saving them at that time, had already taken their own lives as had others.  “I went back to the Danube before spring with Prince Svein and we were fighting the Bulgars.  It helped.  We’re all waiting for the next war, hoping it’ll cure us.”

“Is that where you got all the slaves?” she asked.

“It’s part of war,” Hraerik said.  He knew Myia was against slavery even though she lived in a caste society that was inherently slavish, but she was against that too.  “I don’t like it either.  I didn’t want to bring them, but the wars here have cost so many lives.  I even brought some Angles and Saxons with the Bulgars.  They were the first to go.  People here think they’re Aesir, even though they’re Christians.”

“They would go first then,” Myia admitted.

“I had to promise Rajan that I would bring more Aesir slaves next year.  More Angles.  More Saxons.”  Hraerik shook his head.  He got out of bed and walked naked to the side table and poured some juice into silver goblets and walked back to the bed and passed Myia a goblet.  He stood in front of her and drank his juice.

“Your lingam is chafed,” she said, taking it in her hand while she drank juice from the goblet in her other hand.  “You were in me too long last night.”

“It’s part of the process,” he explained.  “I’m healing myself.  Now I want to be in you for entirely different reasons.”  His lingam began growing in her hand.  She put her juice on the headboard and began stroking it with her free hand.  Then she leaned over and put it in her mouth and it grew even more in her lips.  Hraerik put his juice on the headboard and picked her up under the arms and lifted her up off of his member and it stood up as he lifted her and she wrapped her legs around his waist and he set her back down upon it and he thrust it deep within her and he lifted and dropped her and kept lifting and dropping her until he was very deep within her and he spun around and fell back on the bed, holding her tightly against himself the whole time.  Then she began lifting herself and dropping until she began having orgasms and her moaning soon had Hraerik exploding within her.  She felt him pulsing inside her and she fell onto his chest, breathing heavily and she kept him inside her for a long time for entirely different reasons.

When Hraerik returned to Ashaval, he resumed entertaining the Jat princesses that Rajan’s staff plied him with and days he worked with his Khazar princess, going through books and inventories.  Only when they were out at sea did Hraerik show any interest in his princess.  One night they were making love under the awnings while his men were camped on the beach and she told him, “I think I might be pregnant.”

“I’m using a glove on my eleventh finger,” Hraerik protested.

“I don’t think it was designed for you to come in it,” she said, “and then sleep with it inside me all night.  There must have been leakage.”

“I thought you were seasick.”

“I don’t get seasick.”

“See?  You’re the perfect woman for me,” he said, “and now you’re pregnant.  You won’t be able to travel with me.”

“I can still travel with you.”

“By next spring’s sailings you’ll be bursting at the seams,” Hraerik complained.  “You’ll have to stay with my wives in Gardariki.  They’ll take good care of you.  We’ll all take good care of you and our baby,” he reassured her.  Serah threw up all the way back to Gardariki and he left her there with his wives and sailed off to Pereslavets to see how young Svein was doing with his attack on Bulgaria.  But before he left, he visited a slave competitor he knew in Tmutorokan.  “I need a wee one,” he told the slaver.  “An Irish girl that isn’t going to get pregnant.”

“Ahh,” he replied.  “Little people!  I have just what you need,” and he showed Hraerik a nine year old girl with bright red hair.  “She was being raped by her older brothers on the farm back in Cork and when the family found out, they sold her into slavery.  Claimed she was possessed by the devil and it was all her fault.”

“Your physicians have checked her out,” Hraerik stated, as he checked her out.

“Oh, yes, of course.  Not much we can do about the devil, though.  She cries at night but, I guess, that’s to be expected.”

“Can you get her some nice clothes,” Hraerik said.  “And a good warm coat with a deep hood?”

The slaver put together a trunk of clothes for her and charged Hraerik four pieces of silver for the girl and another four for the clothes and the trunk.  Hraerik led the girl down to the quays and made sure her hood was drawn up good and he put her under the forecastle of his dromon shieldship and told her, “This will be your home for the next few weeks.”  Hraerik took a fleet of warships with a refreshed new Tmutorokan legion coming along with him to Pereslavet and Prince Svein.  They sailed from the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea and crossed it in two days.  The first night the legion camped along the coast south of Cherson and Hraerik anchored his ship just off the beach.

“You go below deck and get ready for me,” Hraerik told the girl and the Prince posted guards on deck then slipped below the forecastle.  He had to stoop to get in there and he found the girl nestled in amongst the furs and he stripped his clothes off and joined her and he hugged her close to himself and held her in his arms as they fell asleep.  She was still asleep in the middle of the night and she began sobbing uncontrollably and Hraerik hugged her close to his chest and whispered in Gaelic, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” and she hugged him and went back to sleep and when she would cry out again, he did the same again and they clung to each other through the night and they battled their demons together.

The next day they sailed west across the sea and they landed north of Constanza and camped along the beach again.  Hraerik told the girl that night about the underwater breathers and the divers he had employed from Constanza to recover his son’s lost gold and he joined her under the furs again and they slept in each other’s arms and the girl only woke up crying twice and Hraerik noticed as he hushed her that the mortebity that had been dragging him down seemed to be loosening its grip somewhat.  They arrived in Pereslavet before noon and Hraerik had lunch with Svein and Sviataslava before heading up the Danube with the legion, bound for the siege of Silistra and the Roman Fortress of Dorostorum there.

That night, when Hraerik slept with the girl, she only whimpered a bit and she slept through the whole night and he held her in his arms the whole time and she clung to him like a nursing baby.  The oppressing mortebity he had felt was definitely fading, and it wasn’t something he was forcing out, but rather, something that was peeling away on its own, layer by layer.  The next morning Hraerik asked the girl her name.  “It’s Sinead,” she said in Gaelic.  “It means God’s gift.”

“It’s very appropriate,” he said.

“No, it’s not,” she said, looking down at the deck of the ship.  “I don’t even believe in God anymore.  Not after all that has happened to me,” she said, and she thought of the slavers and she shivered.

“You don’t have to believe in the gods to believe you are a gift.  You just have to believe in yourself.”

“I’m nothing,” she said.  “There is nothing left for me to believe in.”

“That’s not true,” Hraerik said, looking out at the blue waters of the Danube.  “I just hope I am helping you as much as you are helping me.”

“What happened to you here?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

“I sense that something terrible happened to you here, and that you are back here to face it, to overcome it.”

“You have a fine sense about yourself, for a child.”

“I’m not a child anymore,” she said.  “Not after what’s happened to me.”

“There was a war here, further upriver, and I saw some very terrible things, things I could not have imagined in my darkest dreams.”

“You’re Vikings,” Sinead said.  “It must have been bad to have affected Vikings so.  I heard some of your men talk about the Army of the Impalers and they have the same look in their eyes that you did, like they are seeing ghosts all the time.”

“It’s my men I worry about,” Hraerik said.  “It has infected us all, this thing, this, I can only say it in Norse, this ‘mortebity’, a feeling that death is stalking you.  Some of my men have already killed themselves, but it’s not something I should be talking with you about.  You’re a child.”

“I’m not a child anymore,” she insisted.

“You speak Norse?” he asked.

“I understand some, but I don’t speak it.  You can’t have grown up in Ireland without understanding some Norse.  There are so many Danes and Norwegians in Dub-lin, Danes town.”

“My father started Dublin,” Hraerik told her.

“Your father was Ragnar Lothbrok?”

“My father was Hraegunar ‘Lothbrok’ Sigurdson,” he corrected her.  “His name was Gunnar and he earned the Hrae in Gunnar by battling fire breathing dragonships.  You’ve heard of him?”

“I’ve heard tales of him through the Ui Imair,” she said.  “There’s a Hraes’ trading station in Dublin.  Is that where the Hraes’ comes from?  Hrae Gunnar?”

“It’s a family company,” he explained.  “My name is Hraerik, Hrae Erik and my brother’s name was Hraelauger for Hrae Roller.  It loses a bit in translation.”

“If your name is Hrae Erik, you must have,” and she stopped.  “Have you ever fought fire breathing dragons?”

“Once or twice,” Hraerik said, as they approached the city of Silistra.  “You’d best stay on ship while I change out the troops.”  Hraerik went ashore and checked on the progress of the siege.  “Any word on Bulgarian forces?” he asked the Hraes’ commander.

“We have set up spies in Preslav,” he replied, “but, so far, no answers.”

“We don’t expect them to attack until spring,” Hraerik said.  “You’ve been letting their messengers slip through?”

“Yes, and we’ve been letting townsfolk slip into the fortress.  There’s still a year’s worth of supplies in the fortress so, the message they should be sending home is that they can hold out till spring quite easily.”

“Good.  We want them coming to us and we want them coming to us here in the spring.  Prince Svein wants to overwinter in Pereslavet in peace and quiet.”

“If Prince Svein wants peace and quiet, he should come here,” the commander said.  “This is the most peaceful siege I have ever attended,” and the commander was an experienced officer out of the Varangian Guard, so he had a lot of siege experience with the Romans.

Prince Hraerik headed back for Pereslavet with the relieved Kievan legion that would be returning to Kiev for a break.  They camped on the river one more night and Hraerik joined Sinead below deck again.  They slept together but they weren’t hugging each other nearly as hard anymore.  They were both sleeping much better now, but Hraerik woke up in the middle of the night and Sinead was on top of him and he felt himself inside her as she rose up and down upon him.  “What are you doing?” he whispered.

“I’m trying to please you,” she whispered back.  “You were hard.”

“You’re a child,” he insisted.

“I’m not a child,” she said.  “The slavers taught me this.  I don’t want you selling me back to the slavers!”

“Will this make you feel better about yourself, or worse?”

“Oh, much better!”

Hraerik let her ride his steed and the slavers had taught her well, for he came hard inside her and he flowed freely.  She was too young to get pregnant, being a few years shy of puberty.  Hraerik shook his head and got dressed and went above deck.  The men were almost ready to set sail so, he gave the signal to start off.  By evening they were in Pereslavet and Hraerik introduced Sinead to Svein and Sviataslava.  After a late supper Svein asked his grandfather if he wanted one room or two.

“I can’t sleep alone, anymore,” Hraerik answered.  “I have dark dreams if I do.”

“She’s pretty young,” Svein said.

“She’s wee folk.  I bought her from a slaver in Tmutorokan.”

“Oh,” Svein said and he understood.

“We’re helping each other.  We’ve both been through trying times.”

“I can’t sleep alone either, not since Ramnic.  I can’t get the screams out of my head.  Screams that are seen but not heard.  Svia stays with me always.  I guess we’re helping each other too.  She’s been through a lot as well.  Seeing her whole mission impaled, and Vlad was bad to her.  He shared her with his father and uncle.  The old geezers couldn’t get it up anymore, but when they saw Svia, suddenly they could so, he shared her with them.  I killed them both for her.  You only said, ‘Don’t kill Vlad’, so I killed them for her.”

“Thank you for having faith in my visions,” Hraerik said.  “Sometimes prescient knowledge can be hard to take.  To know the best path forward is seldom knowing the easiest path.”

“I don’t know how you can handle it,” Svein said, then he looked over at Svia and Sinead sharing the third highseat and chatting up a storm and he saw that Sinead was a lot older than her years let on.  He called a servant over and told her to make up the suite for Hraerik.

“You talk to Svia about her experiences?” Hraerik asked.  “Does it help her?”

“I didn’t at first, but then she started telling me things and I think she did it to half help me.  So, I listen and I console and I think it helps her.  We aren’t joined at the groin anymore so, we’re making progress.  Those focking impalers!” Svein said under his breath.

“Those focking impalers!” Hraerik said and he clinked his goblet on Svein’s.  Both girls looked at the men and then giggled.  Hraerik finished his mead, then got up and said, “Are you coming, Sinead?”, and she got up and joined him and they waved good night to the other couple and the servant led them to their suite.  “This is the great room,” Hraerik said, “and this is the bedroom and that’s the dressing room with wash basins and chamber pots, and I hope you don’t mind silk sheets.  I know you’re used to furs, but silks make for a nice change,” and he began undressing the girl and she then undressed him and she bent over and took his lingam into her mouth and began sucking it just hard enough for insertion and then she coughed up some phlegm and coated the thing and when she got it just right she stopped.  Hraerik lifted her into the bed and slipped her between the sheets and he joined her by thrusting his lingam into her and they fell asleep in each other’s arms.  It was the only way he could sleep and keep the mortebity at bay.

When he woke up in the morning, Hraerik heard Sinead in the dressing room.  She walked out naked and carrying a robe of silk.  “The dressing room is full of clothes,” she said.  “Can I try this on?” and she held up the robe.  Hraerik got up and crossed the room naked and said, “Let me put that on you,” and he took the robe from her and put it on her arms and crossed it on her front and tied off the belt.  He picked her up and hugged her.  “The darkness is almost gone,” he said, as he set her down.

“I’m feeling pretty good myself!” she said, spinning around in her silk robe.

“We’ll be heading back to Tmutorokan soon and Svein and Svia will be coming with us.  The legion will come too, but they’ll break off north and go to Kiev.  But before we go I want to talk to you about your becoming a girl again, about you reclaiming your right to a childhood again.”

“I’m not interested,” she answered.

‘One of my officers in Tmutorokan has a family and he has three daughters around your age and I would like you to spend the winter with them.”

“I’m not interested,” she said again.

“I would like you to come back here with me in the spring.  I don’t want to sleep alone here, but I have wives in Tmutorokan and they wouldn’t understand.  So, while I’m in Tmutorokan, if you can stay with the family, I’ll visit with you and make sure you’re happy there and in the spring we’ll come here just like before.”

“I’ll be able to stay with you here in the spring?”

“Yes, here or on my ship with me.”

“You won’t sell me back to the slavers?”

“I’ll never sell you back to the slavers.  I bought you to get you away from them.  I want to see that your life gets better.  If we work together, we can both get better.”

“I’ll do it then,” Sinead told him.

“Good,” Hraerik said.  “Now go through the clothes in the dressing room and pick out some things that you want and I’ll buy them for you.”

Hraerik spent the next few days talking with Sinead about her childhood and it was not good.  She was six years old when her oldest brother, twice her age, took her hand and led her out to the barn.  He had just helped his father with the bull and its mounting of their milk cow and it had stirred him up.  He’d put a hay stook atop the milk stool and he bent her over it and flipped up her plain woolen dress.  He was already wet from his own emissions when he thrust his member up her anus and began focking her.  A minute later he was going off inside her and he wiped her off and took her back out to her play in the yard.  The next day the brother helped the father again with the bull and cow and the boy realised his error when he watched the bull’s performance a little closer.  That afternoon he took his little sister out to the barn again, bent her over the milk stool and found her vagina, just below her anus, and he inserted his moist member into it and focked her again.  This time it had hurt a bit more and she had bled a bit, but he wiped her clean and took her back to her play.

Over the next year he would have his way with her whenever he got a chance and it was their secret, but when the second brother turned twelve the oldest brother introduced him to their little secret and they shared her.  When the youngest of the three brothers turned twelve he was let in on the secret, but when their father couldn’t seem to find a brother free for a chore or two he followed them out to the barn and watched them through the crack of the door as the three brothers took turns focking their little sister.  He wanted to make sure they were all in it together and when they’d done, he barged into the barn and gave them hell and gave them a lot of chores to do right away in penitence.

Sinead told Hraerik that just when she thought she had been saved from her brothers, her father forced her back onto the milk stool, knelt down and slid his big hard member into her and she was glad that she was still sopping wet from the emissions of her brothers or she would not have been able to handle the pain, for her father was much larger and harder than the boys had been.  While he did keep the boys away most of the time, her father helped himself to her quite often and it always caused her great pain so, she ended up telling her mother about what was happening, but her mother didn’t believe her and shooshed her up about it.  One day, when her father led her by the hand, out to the barn, her mother must have followed, for she caught her father focking her on a workbench in the barn and she scolded him harshly and found out from him that everything Sinead had told her about the boys had been true as well.

Both parents agreed that this family scandal had to be contained or they would be treated with contempt by the rest of the village community.  So, they decided to sell their youngest child into slavery.  It was decided that her father would take her to Cork and sell her to the Viking slavers there.  It was a two day walk, but Sinead was a pretty young girl with bright red hair and she would fetch the best price there.  After walking a full day, they approached a village with an inn and Sinead’s father rented a room and they sat down to a meal in the dining hall and he took her up to their room on the second floor and told her to freshen up and go to bed because he had some business to take care of.

Sinead was almost asleep when a man walked into her room and told her that her father had sold her to him.  He undressed and sat at the edge of the bed and then threw back the covers of the bed and started kissing her.  He undressed her and started inspecting her body as a slaver would then he laid down beside her and started fingering her privates.  He then slid down the bed and began inspecting her privates in the candlelight and he began kissing and then licking down there and then he slid back up the bed and slid his cock into her and began focking her, slowly at first and then furiously as though he were in a hurry.  Finally, he came in her and she felt a great pulsing hot stream entering her as though he had gone a long time without.  Apparently her father had only sold her to him for an hour because there was a knock on the door and when that man had left, another stranger entered.  This man did pretty much the same, but he seemed to prefer anal sex and she hadn’t experienced that since her older brother had mistaken the bull’s effort years before, but he kept calling her boy as he drove her and it hurt because he was so much bigger than her brother had been.  He came up her anus and then he had her suck his cock when he was done.  She was still sucking when a knock was heard at the door and he got up and left.

Soon, her father walked into the room and he looked concerned about her and he wetted a cloth in the room wash basin and he cleaned her up.  Then he joined her in bed and began to fock her violently and he was bigger than the first man and harder than she’d ever remembered him and he began to hurt her with his deep thrusts and she started crying, but that didn’t slow him down in the throes of passion and he kept focking her until he came deep within her and he kept thrusting deeply even when the pulsing flow had stopped.  He collapsed on top of her and he crushed her with his weight and she sobbed I heaving breaths.  Then he pulled out of her, rolled off her and said, “Stop crying and go to sleep.  Tomorrow I sell you for keeps.”  He slept a bit then woke up and began feeling for her privates.  His wife had refused to sleep with him while their bewitched daughter was under their roof so, he had pent up semen yet to be released and he mounted her again and she cried the whole way through it.

When they woke up in the morning, he mounted her again, but she didn’t cry this time.  She was numb below.  He came in her for the final time and then he began to clean her on the bed.  He brought the wash basin over and set it on the floor and he stood naked in front of her and he started by scrubbing her hair with the cloth and his penis danced in front of her as he scrubbed and he noticed her watching it and it grew a bit as it danced.  By the time he had washed her face and lips, it was hard so, he stuck it in her mouth and showed her how to properly suck it.  It penetrated the curve of her throat and she began gagging and he taught her about that as well.  She began swallowing him as he went around the curve and regurgitated him back out and she kept doing it until he came deep down her throat and she felt the hot stream in her throat and she swallowed it down.  He had her lick him all clean and then he washed her mouth again and continued washing down her neck.  He washed her back and chest and then he began suckling on her nipples.  “I want them to pop,” he said, and he kept sucking on them hard until they did pop out from her chest and they stood out like two rosebuds.  He rubbed them both with the palms of his hands and said, “I do believe I can sell you as Wee Folk,” and he continued bathing her until she was clean from head to toe.

They got dressed and left the inn and continued their walk to Cork and were there shortly after noon.  They went to the central market and her father led her by the hand into the slavers quarter there.  There were awnings set up all along the market quarter and under the awnings stood slaves in irons with iron neck rings around their throats and some of the slaves had the Viking withy ropes plaited around their necks.  Most of the male slaves were clothed, but a few finer specimens stood naked, but most of the women stood naked in their cold iron rings and the children were a variety of both, depending on what they were being sold as.  Sinead’s father found a slaver that seemed to specialize in children and he talked to the slaver in a mix of Danish and Gaelic and the slaver was soon inspecting Sinead and he stripped her naked right on the street and began feeling her muscles and skin and her red hair and her blue eyes and white teeth and ruby lips and he sucked on her nipples to see if they would pop and when they did he smiled up at her father and said, “Wee Folk?” and her father nodded.  She put her hands up to cover her breasts and the slaver pulled them down by her sides and gave the nipples another suck so they stuck out from her chest even more, like two ruby rosebuds against the palest white foreground.  Sinead began blushing and her checks almost matched her breasts and her lips turned ruby too.  The slaver then put two fingers up her vagina and felt around and then pulled his fingers out and sniffed them to check for the smell of disease.  The slaver smiled up again and offered her father two silver coins, but her father held up three fingers and the man shook his head, but when her father took her hand and started to walk away with her naked, the slaver agreed to the three coins and passed them to him.  Her father then started to pass the slaver her clothes, but pulled them back to his chest, turned and walked away.  The slaver was very pleased with his purchase and he took Sinead by the hand into his tent and he sent his apprentice out to tend to the slave children without as he attended to the new slave child within.  He bent her over the lunch table and began focking her from behind very slowly, as if to savour the feel of his new acquisition.  He was very pleased with the feel so, he laid her on her back on the table and he began to kiss her ruby lips and he kissed and sucked her nipples some more and then he focked her some more and seemed very pleased with the feel that way and then he began kissing her privates and was very pleased with her taste.  He lifted her slight frame off the table and he laid her on a cot that ran along the pavilion wall and he stripped naked and stood in front of her, balding, corpulent, and fat and he laid on the cot beside her and entered her again side to side and began thrusting in her.  Then he hugged her tight and laid on his back and when she was atop him he pushed her up in the kneeling position and he seemed very pleased that she didn’t know what to do so, he grabbed her about the waist and he lifted her up and down on his member and he showed her how to repeat the action herself and had her perform it until he came inside her.

The slaver had sold his last wee wife to a slaver associate of his who had shown an interest in her and had paid him gold for her so, he had been keeping an eye out for such a girl as this in replacement.  Slavers spent most of their lives on ship in very rough conditions and they found it best to take wives that were under the age of puberty because they didn’t want them getting pregnant at sea.  The younger the better, as long as their nipples popped, which was to them, a sign of womanhood.  Young girls ate less, complained less, and did what they were told, so, slavers would dress them up in women’s clothing and have them wear makeup so they looked much older than they were.  This gave the young girls a beautiful elf-like appearance, and the slavers would take their young wives out in public with them and attend social gatherings with them, for the slavers tended to be quite wealthy.  This could have been embarrassing for the citizens who had sold their young girls to these evil men in the first place so, they called the girls and some boys, who suffered under these conditions, wee folk, and a whole genre of elves and fairies always manifested itself in the societies that supported slavery, for it was impossible to regulate how owners treated their property.  Especially when they were better armed and organized.  The fables of elves and fairies had a darker side as well.  Wherever there were fairies present, children were kidnapped or disappeared.

After the slaver finished having Sinead clean him off, he got dressed, made himself presentable and left her naked and chained to the cot.  He went out and relieved his young apprentice who returned inside the pavilion and began to, pretty much, repeat the same process with the new wee wife.  Once he was done, he went without and the master brought in a young street urchin, a dishevelled boy and he encouraged the youngster to have his way with Sinead and he coached him along until he had learned a few positions and then the master brought in four older men who paid silver to sit at the table, drink wine, and watch the boy fock the young girl over and over again.  When the market closed, they packed up the pavilion and put it on a cart and the slaves pulled the cart out to the harbour and the master rode on the cart with the young boy on one side of him and Sinead riding naked on the other side.  The apprentice walked beside the slaves, a few men and women, but mostly children, all with iron rings about their necks and the boy thought he had found himself a job putting the wood to Sinead, but once the slave ship got out to sea, the boy found himself in an iron ring rowing an oar, just as the other slaves were doing.

Sinead found herself naked below the forecastle deck and she curled up in furs and cried herself to sleep.  Her life had been bad at home, but the last few days made it seem like heaven in comparison.  The slaver came below deck that night and had his way with Sinead again and they slept together, naked in the furs.  In the morning, the slaver took Sinead above deck and started bathing her with sea water.  She sat naked upon a trunk and the slaves were busy rowing behind her and the apprentice whipped the young street urchin because he was lagging behind the others.  The slaver went below deck and returned with some women’s clothing and he put it on Sinead and he stood back in admiration of the beautiful young girl.  He went below deck and came back up with some make-up and he began to teach Sinead how to apply it in front of a small bronze mirror.  He stood back and admired the girl again and he knew he would soon be turning his silver coins into gold.  Whenever they were at market towns, the pavilion went up, slaves were bought and sold, and men paid to watch another young street urchin focking Sinead over and over again and ending up in chains when they sailed away.  And Sinead became the wee wife she was forced to be and she helped with the slaves and she sometimes lured young girls to sail away with them as well, but she made sure they were not as pretty as she was, lest she should end up being the one in a neck ring.

They sailed from Ireland to Angleland and to Frankia and Frisia and Denmark, picking up young boys and girls all along the way and soon they crossed the Baltic, keeping eyes out for pirates, who, the master assured them, would treat them much worse than he now was.  Then they rowed south, up and then down the rivers of Hraes’ and overwintered in Tmutorokan while being trained for the spring trading session in Baghdad.  The girls would be sold to waiting Arab husbands and the boys would be castrated and taken into service with the eunuch armies of the middle east.  Then Prince Hraerik had shown up at the slavers winter hall and had turned the slavers silver coins into gold.

Sinead’s sad story turned Hraerik numb.  But talking about it was a required therapy for the young girl.  And sleeping inside the young girl was a therapy for him.  That’s all he ever wanted and needed, but she considered herself a young woman and she wanted to have sex with him to protect her place with him.  She had never in her life experienced so much finery and a place among fine people and she was not about to let it slip away.  If the Prince wanted her to overwinter with some young family, she would do so, as long as she could rejoin Hraerik in the spring.  And Hraerik let the young girl have her way with him if she felt the need, so, their stay in Pereslavet was very pleasant and their sail across the Black Sea with Prince Svein and Princess Sviataslava was refreshing, but, as they approached Tmutorokan, Sinead hugged Hraerik harder as he slept inside her and she didn’t want to let him go.

Prince Svein re-introduced his new wife, Princess Sviataslava to his mother, Empress Helga and to Queen Silkisif and then to his concubine, Malfrieda, and his sons, Eyfur and Helgi.  Silkisif had arranged a welcoming feast for Svein in her palace in Tmutorokan and Prince Hraerik joined them once he had finished introducing Sinead to her new family in the city.  The legion officer and his wife were glad to have the young girl that Hraerik had saved from slavery in their young family.  Their oldest daughter was a year younger than Sinead and two others followed her a year apart.

That evening Hraerik was with his wives in the master suite of Silki and they’d just finished a threesome and were debating how much better the sex was when done above gold, as they’d enjoyed in Gardariki.  “How do you think Malfrieda took it?” Hraerik asked, changing the subject.

“I think she likes Svia,” Helga lied.

“Svia certainly is beautiful,” Silki added.  “I even found myself getting hard!” and they all laughed.

“I thought she’d be pregnant by now,” Hraerik said and it was what they’d all thought.  Hraerik was worried Svein’s new wife was barren and he had struggled with that with his first wife, Princess Gunwar, only to learn, too late, that it was the machinations of a witch that had deprived them of eleven sons.  And now his long-lost wife was in Christian heaven with his brother, Duke Rollo, and her only son was in Valhalla with Hervor.

“I heard they’re inseparable,” Helga said.  “She should be pregnant by now!  Instead, your Khazar princess is tending to your latest baby in Gardariki right now,” and she gave Hraerik a punch.  ‘If you punched me,’ Hraerik thought, ‘for every latest baby I’ve had, I think my arm would snap off.’

“Yes,” Silki said, “she should be pregnant by now!  I heard she even goes out on campaigns with him and they fock all night in his pavilion.”

“Well,” Helga started, “at least he’s not focking those Valkyries he has attending his legions.”

“Those Valkyries were an excellent idea,” Hraerik said.  “I wish I’d thought of that years ago, instead of having those focking Angels of Death following behind our shieldwall!”

“How do those Valkyries attend to the troops?” Silki asked.  “Please demonstrate on Helga.”

“On me?” Helga asked.  “Why me?”

“You would have made a fine Valkyrie,” Silki said.  “You’re still so lean and muscular.”

“I’m too old,” Hraerik said.  “If the men aren’t hard when they come to their Valkyrie, they don’t need servicing.”

“Well, I’ll get you hard,” Silki started, “and we’ll pretend that you need servicing, so she took his lingam into her mouth and began sucking until Hraerik was hard.  He then stood up beside the bed and pulled Helga off the bed and bent her over the bed and started penetrating her from behind.  He kept focking her and focking her but he wouldn’t come.  “I’m too old,” he said.  “It takes me too long to come.  The Valkyrie would have thrown me off long ago.  The men have to come quickly or they didn’t need servicing and they’re all young men so, they all come quickly.  Each Valkyrie has ten to twelve men to service and they don’t have time to be focking around.”

“Now what are we going to do with this hard thing that won’t come?” Helga asked, slapping Hraerik’s lingam first this way and then that.  “This was your idea, Silki.  You take care of it!” and Helga threw herself onto the bed in disgust.  “It won’t come inside an Empress!  What a disrespectful little cock!”

Silkisif reached over Helga and pulled Hraerik over and she got on top of him and slid her well over the mouth of his steed and made it drink.  She rode it hard and it swallowed in great gulps and she felt it grow larger and harder inside her and she began to come and she moaned and Helga joined in too, for she had been fondling herself as she watched Silki ride and the two women moaning soon had Hraerik coming hard once more.  Silki collapsed onto Hraerik’s chest and Hraerik hugged her close.  “Gods, I love Tmutorokan!” he said.

“It would have been better with the gold underneath us,” Silki whispered, and the next day they went back to Gardariki, on the other side of the Kuban River.

(968) During the Yulefest Holiday, Sweyn thought it would be a good time to teach Svia and Malfrieda a little bit about sharing and he had both women in his bed together throughout the celebrations.  He never used a glove with Svia, but he always used one with Malfrieda because, if he sneezed at her the wrong way he would get her pregnant.  The concept shouldn’t have been too hard to follow, no glove on the woman you want to get pregnant and always a glove on the woman you don’t, but there was much drinking during the holidays and Sweyn had forgotten to wear his glove with Malfrieda more than once.

After Yulefest, Prince Svein and Princess Svia returned to Pereslavet to prepare the Hraes’ legions for the spring campaign and Hraerik visited with Sinead several times in Tmutorokan, but only as a doting uncle.  He was hoping that, surrounded with young girls her age, she would be able to find her childhood again.  After a month of hoping and trying, Sinead was still eager to rejoin him in Bulgaria, so he took her away from her new family and they sailed with a fleet bound for Pereslavet.  They spent three weeks together in the city and Svein and Svia were inseparable and Hraerik slept in Sinead all night long and she rode him as she pleased, then word came from Silistra that a large Bulgarian army was forming in Preslav and the spies confirmed that the target was the Bulgar fortress of Dorostal that was under siege.  Princes Svein and Hraerik took their princesses and their legions to Silistra and Hraerik planted hazel poles and they awaited the enemy.

A few days later the Bulgarian army was camped just south of the hazel poles and stood about thirty thousand strong.  They had some Magyar horse on either flank and they were all veteran troops, having fought Romans and Thracians and Macedonians alike.  They were met by Prince Svein’s three new legions plus an old legion of foot they had just brought from Tmutorokan, which Prince Hraerik commanded in their center with two new legions on the flanks and one kept in behind in reserve.  Behind the reserve legion, in a hollow that ran behind the battlefield, the marine elements of the new legions had set up trebuchets out of sight behind the campaign tents of the Hraes’ and, as the Bulgars marched against them the catapults launched their stone ballistae with terrible effect.  Then the Bulgars were pelted by rocket propelled foot bow arrows, then by foot bow arrows then by rocket propelled hand bow arrows then finally by hand bow arrows to which they could respond in kind.  Then spears were thrown and the armies closed with a great clash of shield walls.

Prince Hraerik and his sword, Tyrfingr, held the center against a wedge formation that came against them hard in the middle, but the new legions on the flanks drove back the lighter ranks on the Bulgar flanks, as the cavalry fought in melee fashion on either side of the main forces.  The Hungarian horse on the flanks was the finest cavalry in Europe so, the Hraes’ heavy horse had their hands full containing them and reserve regiments of horse were sent out from behind to help as required.  Spare horses were available to the cavalry and were led out from behind as well, but the Magyars had spare horse as well so the fighting on the flanks was intense and did not let up.  The fighting in the middle was just as intense as the Bulgarian wedge tried to drive itself through the Hraes’ center and break up the formation.  Prince Hraerik and his old veteran legion were becoming fatigued and the Bulgarians began driving them back in a bulge that thinned their ranks.  Cohorts from the reserve legion began to quietly fill in the line as it bulged and the young soldiers linked their kite shields with the round shields of the veterans and the experienced Bulgars should have picked up on the pattern of the shields that were forming and should have noticed that they were not random, but kite round kite round in a fashion that had been planned.  As the battle raged past noon and into the afternoon, the wedge became a circle as the Bulgars were encircled and cut off from their supplies.  The Bulgars tried to reform their wedge and drive the Hraes’ line apart, but reserve cohorts kept filling in the spaces with more kite round kite round shield patterns and Prince Hraerik rallied his veterans to hold the line as they were driven back.  By evening the cut off troops were out of water and exhausted as they pounded against a defensive wall that grudgingly gave up ground but would not break.  The Bulgarians had packed themselves behind their comrades in a big push that had failed and their rear had collapsed inward as well so that they could not replace their worn front rank with the fresh troops in their center, while the outer ring of Hraes’ troops had plenty of room to change out ranks and the killing began in earnest as fresh troops found openings in the defences of exhausted soldiers and when they fell they were dragged out from under their shield wall by Valkyries and were quickly finished off.  Then the fresh exposed rank behind them faced several rounds of fresh Hraes’ troops until they, too, fell exhausted and were dragged out by the women warriors of the Hraes and killed.  Dead Bulgars were piling up behind the ring of Hraes’ fighters as the knotted mass in the center dwindled down in size.

Prince Hraerik called a halt to the slaughter and offered the exhausted Bulgars terms.  When the Magyar horse saw this, they abandoned their Bulgar allies and rode off west towards Hungary with Prince Svein and his lancers hot on their tails.  But the Hungarian horse still had their spares and were adept at switching horses while riding at full gallop and the Hraes’ couldn’t catch very many of them.  Half the Bulgar troops could remain in Silistra as free men and half would be enslaved and sold in the markets of Baghdad.  But the Bulgar troops holding the Fortress of Dorostal would have to abandon the fort and would be free to return south as soldiers or stay in Silistra as free men.  Some of the soldiers marched back to Preslav and some preferred to swear an oath not to fight and stayed in the city.

“It was the Battle of Cannae!” Prince Svein shouted from his horse as he returned from chasing Hungarians.  “I thought your legion was failing as I watched from the left flank, but then I saw the pattern in your shields and I knew you had something planned!”

“I think the kite round kite round shield wall works better than straight round or straight kite,” Hraerik told his grandson as he walked up and held his horse.  “Your father and I always wanted to do Cannae together but we never got the chance so, I was hoping the Bulgarians would attack in a wedge.”

“I think our Valkyries killed more Bulgars than our troops did,” Svein said as he dismounted.

“They helped hold our line together too!” Hraerik agreed.  “I think our men will have to service our Valkyries tonight and not the other way around.”

It was late and all the troops were exhausted so, Princess Svia and Sinead organized an impromptu feast in the city square and the marine units helped prepare it.  And the legion units showed their appreciation to their Valkyries by serving them the finest meads and the choice cuts of meat and town musicians were hired and the Valkyries danced with their men and slept with whoever they chose to service them.  The veteran legion of Tmutorokan slept with their customary camp followers and with the professional women of the city, paid for by Prince Hraerik.  The next day it was decided to leave the old legion in Silistra and the three new legions went up the Danube to collect the Bulgar slaves that had been left in the towns and cities that had been captured last year.  The spring trade session would be starting soon and more slaves were required to add to the ones that were being trained in Kiev and Tmutorokan.

Back in Pereslavet, slaver knars soon began arriving to take the captives to Baghdad and India.  Sinead was on Hraerik’s ship when she saw her old master gathering up Bulgar children into several of his knars and when he saw her looking, she stuck her tongue out at him and gave him the salute of the impalers.

“I hope that felt good,” Hraerik told her.  “It means the therapy is working.”

“Oh, it felt good alright!” she said, taking up Hraerik’s arm in her hands.

The Prince did not just seem to be sleeping in Sinead anymore.  After the Battle of Silistra, Hraerik had sipped a bit too much mead and he and Sinead had made passionate love below the foredeck of his shieldship all night long.  In the morning he realized that perhaps his wish of giving Sinead her childhood back was unrealistic and perhaps he should be focusing on giving her the best life going forward that he could.  His mortebity was almost gone and he owed her for that.  He had survived the Impaler Games of Wallachia and the darkness was fading and Sinead’s youthfulness was helping her get through the darkest year of her life.  They were still celebrating each other long after the Battle of Silistra was over.